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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 29)

All News 06:48 January 29, 2016

Post-Moon tasks

The interim leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK), Kim Jong-in, faces difficult tasks after the departure of former Chairman Moon Jae-in. Kim has swiftly taken control as head of the party's emergency planning committee and chief campaign manager. The party's sagging popularity has been improving since he joined the party two weeks ago, despite his ties to Chun Doo-hwan's military regime.

In the coming weeks, Kim faces internal and external tasks. The first test will be how well he can manage candidate nominations for the April 13 general election. Candidate selection should be based on strict principles of expertise and integrity, with an aim to transform the party's image of incompetence.

Externally, Kim has to deal with challenges from a new party led by Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, co-founder of the Minjoo's predecessor, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy. Ahn quit the largest opposition after a power struggle with Moon. Some MPK lawmakers quit to join Ahn's party. Kim needs to ensure that no additional defections occur.

Most importantly, Kim should focus on developing policies that can improve the economy and people's livelihoods amid deepening socio-economic polarization. Kim has established a task force to create election pledges. The task force should prepare a fresh economic and welfare platform that can win voters' support. As an economic strategist, voters expect him to present viable alternatives for lifting Korea out of its protracted low growth, and alleviate social and economic inequalities.

The MPK's successive election failures under Moon's short-lived leadership show the voters' discontent with the party's factional feuding and unproductive policies. It has been losing support even in its traditional stronghold of Honam. Voters are also getting weary of the protest culture of the "386 Generation," the dominant group within the party comprising of dissents against dictatorships in the 1980s.

Kim said the MPK should no longer be swayed by such people. It remains to be seen whether Kim, who successfully led the economic democratization campaign for then-presidential candidate Park Geun-hye in 2012, can initiate fundamental changes in the party's culture and lead it to victory in the upcoming vote.
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